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UB Social Work: A Better Vision of Society

Nancy J. Smyth, PhD, LCSW

We are a vibrant and diverse community of scholars, educators, practitioners and life-long learners — we are unified by our vision of a better society achieved through the generation and transmission of knowledge, promotion of social justice and service to humanity.

“Our profession began in reaction to the turmoil that resulted from the industrial revolution. Over the past century, we've developed a toolbox and perspective that uniquely position us to solve the problems confronting the 21st century. But to do this, we need to integrate our social work skills with those of the digital age.”
Nancy J. Smyth, Dean and Professor

As Dean of the School, I would like to welcome you to the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. We are a vibrant and diverse community of scholars, educators, practitioners and life-long learners — we are unified by our vision of a better society achieved through the generation and transmission of knowledge, promotion of social justice and service to humanity.

As part of the University at Buffalo, one of two flagship campuses in the State University of New York system, we offer a wealth of opportunities for learning, both inside and outside the classroom. As one of the most international campuses in the United States, UB students and faculty can develop relationships with people from all over the world. In addition, we are located in a bi-national region that is steeped in history and diversity. From the nearby Southern Ontario region of Canada, to the reservation communities of the Seneca and Tuscarora Nations, Western New York and the Buffalo-Niagara region have much to offer. Most of our masters students are in field placements throughout the region and in neighboring states and Canada. However, our learning opportunities are much broader — students work with faculty on nationally and internationally-focused research, and some students do their field placements overseas.

Every one of our faculty and professional staff influences communities in multiple ways, for example, by sharing expertise on an agency or professional association board of directors; conducting research projects in partnership with community agencies; reviewing and editing articles for professional publications for social workers and other professionals all over the world; writing books that educate the next generation of social workers in the U.S. and abroad; presenting at the United Nations Indigenous Peoples’ Forum; providing consultation to agencies; and participating in the prestigious Campbell Collaboration, an international group that sets policy on evidenced-based practice. The impact of this work is not limited to the communities outside of the university — faculty integrate this expertise in their teaching, bringing it into the classroom and creating real-world and service learning assignments for students.

Faculty research touches on many critical topics, including substance abuse, trauma, aging, health access, mental health, chronic disease, child welfare, sexuality and cross-cultural practice. Our research center, the Buffalo Center for Social Research, highlights some of this work, as do the publications listed in the faculty section of our website. Our faculty also are an important part of the University’s UB 2020 Strategic Strengths, bringing our expertise to the areas of Extreme Events, Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan, and Civic Engagement and Public Policy.

-Dean Nancy J. Smyth